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Saw a commercial today and it made me pause. It consisted of a number of people with darker skin saying “thank you”. An announcer talked about the progress in Iraq. I assumed it must be a Republican thing. Turned out it was made by Kurds.

The Tabernacle

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Interested in the ancient Jewish Tabernacle? How about a guided tour.

Oh!: Sorry, had a broken link there, now it’s fixed.

Evangelical Problems

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I think part of the problem is that we are still doing theology in an Enlightenment frame of mind, as if it were a string of ideas that we should logically link together, and once we’ve produced a nice logical circle, then we’re home free. The truth is that life is a lot messier than that, and the Bible is more about stories than the history of ideas that are embedded in the stories.

Ben Witherington thinks there are problems with Evangelical theologies. All of them. I certainly agree. We are all attempting to renew a Church while remaining locked into theologies which are upwards of 400 years old. The Liberal tradition in recent centuries thought the renewal of the Church would come through a renewed theology which dispensed with the miraculous and supernatural, taking Scripture as a option. This clearly didn’t work. What will work for the Emerging Church is to not only try out new forms, but begin to work with theologians who are truly discovering a newness in theology, not theology which dispenses, but which even better grasps hold of the Biblical revelation.

Every major Christian movement in history has first been a theological movement, which then leads to structural changes. The contemporary church has sought making structural changes without the theological adaptation, leading to vague frustrations and limited influence except amongst themselves. But, there are conversations going on not only about what needs changing but also on how to move forward. I am convinced the key to this is finally getting in touch with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, allowing true Trinitarian thought to enter into our theological understanding. It is what the Pentecostal movement pointed towards, only it got too caught up in being self-amazed at signs and wonders to press it forward into depths of discovery.

Now, however, those from different traditions are discovering a fresh reality in the study of God and his work on this earth… though certainly not without major attacks from all directions. This is what makes it all fun.

It is indeed an exciting time to study theology. Maybe more exciting than it has been in well over a thousand years.

I dream

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I dream of the day when the quail…

Mountain Quail

…can feast in peace with…

Mountain Quail and California Chipmunk

… the chipmunk.

A dream

liturgy 1 Comment »

For the first time in a long while I fell asleep on the couch in front of the television. Now, sometimes this is a gentle and relaxing sort of sleep, indicating the busyness and work of the day pulling my consciousness away before I had a chance to get up and wander to bed. The gentle lull of a favored show or movie massage my cares to silence, my eyelids grow heavy, my body slumps against a pillow, and even my ears no longer can keep up with the plot. A few hours later I wake up, the lights still on, the dinner plate still next to me, and I happily move from living to bed room.

Usually, it’s nice. Last night I didn’t fall asleep watching an old movie, or a drama, or one of my Rocky and Bullwinkle DVDs. Instead, at some point I turned the channel to the news. It must have been between the coverage of minor global events and the sports coverage. I remember seeing the smiling sports anchor talking about what he was going to say about USC and the Lakers’ new season, but I don’t remember hearing the report.
The unconscious should not be listening to the news while it is drifting away from rational consideration. The inner life doesn’t fly. It drags along on the ground, meaning if it drags through the mud it takes a while to get back into presentable order.

I fell asleep on the couch and I had a dream, a vivid dream. Here’s my dream.

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I voted

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Voting Day



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So, today is going to be an easy day for civil duty. Everything Yes. Except 78, which is curiously being promoted as prescription drug salvation by the prescription drug companies. I’m not bourgeois enough to believe them.

But, it seems a losing battle to reform state government. Just like with the TV shows I like, everything is polling poorly. Shoddy mediocrity is a wonderful selling point in politics and churches. It’s a lot easier to complain than change I suppose.

It’s not the grand selection of propositions which has me civically excited. In a wonderful expression of old time American politics I could care less about the propositions as long as my favored slate wins for the Lake Arrowhead water board. The question is do we become suburb of San Bernardino, plucked clean by real estate and contractor vultures, or do we try to restore the quality of being an oasis in the mountains, where birds are heard more than power tools.


politics 3 Comments »

So, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door today. Young fella’s, nicely dressed, friendly and all that.

I always have an odd reaction when JWs come to the door. You see, I have a couple of theology degrees, studied the original Biblical languages, and still spend a good amount of my time delving deeply into Theological and Scriptural studies. I am a professionally trained pastor, even if I’m not currently working directly in that field. Everything in my background suggests I should have one of those “this is how it is” conversations which makes apologetics fans clap with glee about being right.

Only there’s nothing in me to debate over theology and Scripture with the friendly young fellas in ties. Sure, I’ve heard tales of how a polished Christian asks pointed questions to reveal the folly of JWs Arianesque theology. It doesn’t come out from me.

In fact I’m just friendly. I know what it is like to go up to strangers and try to sell something. I hate it, hate it with a passion. Rather than debating their verses in John, then, I eagerly take part in their spiel. I got stuck on one question until I realized the answer was “eternal life”.

They ask me if I ever have read the Bible. I say yes, in fact I graduated from Fuller Seminary and so have studied it a lot. They have their spiel to go through rather than conversation so they press onwards showing me a verse in John and asking me what I think if it.

I reply, this is an actual quote, “I think it’s grand.” Because it is grand, of course.

Then they go through their little handout book which opens with different questions, and they wonder if I’ve thought about these questions. I say a lot, as they’re very important questions to think about. They both agree with this sentiment.

They suggest maybe meeting up again later, and I’m agreeable. Their spiel done, they talk about my neighbors, which isn’t as odd as it sounds because the neighbors here are also JWs, and more wonderful, friendly neighbors couldn’t be found. Apparently, my visitors and my neighbors go way back.

With the conversation drifting away it seems I missed my chance to really nail them with some strong Christological points. Nor did I get a chance to debate the translation of “ho theos”, or ask about the JW pneumatology (which is an actual question I have). I didn’t bring in my recitation of the patently wrong non-word “Jehovah”, nor even could I share with them how the Burned Over district of the Northeast in the late 1800s spawned all manner of curious heresies, most of which were dependent on a single person claiming divine inspiration, which took their ignorance of Christian theology and turned it around a good deal.

I didn’t get a chance to relate how I am decidely a homo- not a hetero-. A believer in homo-ousios, that is, which is what the Council of Nicene decided. (homoousios, by the by, means that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father, hetero- means “different substance”).

I instead shook their hands, wished them well, and watched them walk back down the driveway.

What’s funny is there was nothing in me that had any interest in debating with them. I think JW theology is certainly deficient but I think such people are genuinely seeking the Truth. My emotions are one of sympathy not one of potential battle. Oddly enough it is the Baptist Seminary presidents who seem to raise that latter emotion. With the heretics so-called, I have a lot more grace.

I guess I’m supposed to engage in a battle of theological points. Only I didn’t want to, didn’t at all feel it was right, and am happy I gave them one of their least difficult conversations of the day. My suspicion is they do such things more for the experience and work rather than the results, so it’s nice to give them a break from the slammed doors or derisive responses.

It does make me laugh. Because I didn’t at all do what I’m “supposed” to do in such a situation. But I’m fine with the fact. Should I be?

Evening Pictures

Scripture, theology 1 Comment »

Moon and Venus

a bit of humor

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Jokes that get cut from various late night monologues for being out of bounds for whatever reason have found a place to land:
Too tough for TV